How to Get What You Are Owed After an Accident
After a car accident, it’s normal to think about money. There’s a reason for that—car accidents are expensive. Between medical bills, car repairs, and lost time at work, it’s natural to question, “How will I pay for all of this?”
The good news is, that if someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you likely have a legal claim for damages and should reach out to car accident lawyer. Below, we break down how to get the most money out of your car accident claim.
How much is the average car accident case worth?
No two car accident cases are the same. Even if you compare two accidents with similar injuries, the monetary awards can vary significantly when you make a side-by-side comparison. For this reason, any car accident attorney will have a hard time guessing how much your case is worth or even giving you an average payout for your type of case.
That said, there are certain costs most car accident cases include. You and your attorney can review these costs to agree on the minimum you are willing to accept for your case. Common costs for a car accident case include:
The National Safety Council recently reviewed motor vehicle accident data and subsequent medical costs. In one year, the NSC counted 4.8 million “medically consulted injuries,” totaling $473.2 billion in medical costs. Car accidents can result in serious injuries, ranging from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands. This is not a cost most people can afford on their own, nor is it one you should expect to pay.
In most cases, your car accident case will include all medical costs from the date of your accident to the closure of your case.
This can include:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Medical devices
- Mental health services
In many cases, your attorney will work out a billing arrangement with your care providers to delay payment until the conclusion of your case. However, this arrangement is generally made ahead of time and only accepted by certain providers. Contact your attorney if you are uncertain about whether a cost or care provider is covered.
If you need to take time off from work to recover from your injuries, you may be able to collect lost wages as part of your car accident case. The insurance company will look at your actual wage and multiply it by your average hours worked. This payment is available from the date of your injury until you can return to work.
However, you may receive lost income as a lump sum payment at the close of your case. If you need to take time off from work but are worried about the financial impact, speak to your attorney.
If you suffer a disabling injury that prevents you from returning to work, you may be able to recover future lost wages. Once again, this figure will depend on your wage and average hours worked but also on how long you likely had left in your career. If you can return to work, but not in the same field, you may be able to participate in worker retraining.
Pain and suffering
Car accidents can cause physical and emotional distress. In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Recognize the impact of physical and emotional pain after an accident. When you feel pain, you may find it challenging to participate in activities, sleep, or simply find enjoyment.
Pain and suffering include a variety of ailments, including:
- Acute pain
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of companionship
Seven tips to help you get the most money out of a car accident
If you have been in a car accident, naturally, you want to get the most money out of your case. When someone else’s actions result in your injuries, you shouldn’t have to suffer a financial loss. An experienced car accident attorney can help you maximize your financial recovery and help you get the services and funds you need to get back on your feet. With that said, you can increase the value of your case.
1. Stay at the scene
Leaving the scene is arguably the biggest mistake you can make after an accident. Not only does the law require you to stop and check on the other driver, but it is also the only way you will be able to recover anything from the other party.
After an accident, you need to move your vehicle out of the path of oncoming traffic and exchange insurance information.
Get all relevant information, including:
- The driver’s first and last name and phone number
- The name of their insurance company
- The name of the policyholder (if different from the driver)
- The insurance policy number
- The insurance company’s phone number
You can find most of this information on the driver’s insurance card. Often, the best way to record this information is to take a picture of the front and back of the insurance card. This way, you have the information safely stored for when you need it.
2. Gather evidence
Evidence plays one of the biggest roles in your car accident case. Car accidents are often a case of he said/she said. The more evidence you can provide to prove your side of the story, the better. The bulk of your evidence will come from the accident scene. In this case, pictures are your best friend.
Survey the scene and photograph what you think is relevant, including:
- Both vehicles. Include damaged areas as well as pictures of the entire car
- The other driver’s license plate
- Any property damage (i.e., skid marks or bent traffic signs)
- Any identifying location markers, including street signs
Other evidence that will be important includes your medical records and any records of costs you incur as a result of the accident. Be sure to keep track of any care providers you visit and any medications they prescribe. Keep all receipts for purchases, big-ticket items like repairs, and smaller items like Tylenol and ice packs.
3. Attend all recommended doctors appointments
The insurance company won’t take your injuries seriously if you don’t take them seriously. One of the most significant factors the insurance company will look at is the degree of your injuries and how they affect your day-to-day life. If you miss appointments, the insurance company will argue your injuries are not that bad. You should always attend all appointments or reschedule if necessary. Don’t ignore your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up care or referrals.
4. Be honest
The most important thing you can do for your case is, to be honest. Do not lie about the extent of your injuries. If the insurance company finds out you weren’t telling the truth, it will destroy your credibility and seriously diminish the value of your case.
At the same time, don’t hide your injuries or play them off. This only hurts you in the long run. If you are in pain, tell your doctor. If you can’t sleep, let your legal team know. All of this matters and can affect your case.
5. Watch your social media activity
Insurance companies can and will track your activity. One of the easiest ways for them to do so is to get on your social media. After an accident, you have to be very careful about what you post on the internet. Never talk about the accident or your injuries.
Never post any photos that might contradict what you say about your injuries. If you injured your shoulder in a car accident, don’t post a picture of yourself kayaking. While you don’t have to stay off social media altogether, it is probably a good idea to lock it down and set everything to private.
6. Understand who may hold financial liability
In many cases, only two parties are in one car accident, you and the other driver. In this case, you can only recover damages from that driver’s insurance (and sometimes the driver directly). However, there are some instances where this may not be the case.
If the other driver was on the job, you might be able to recover damages from their employer’s insurance policy. If your accident involved a truck driver, you might have a claim against the vehicle manufacturer if you can prove there was a manufacturing defect. In rare cases, you may also have a lawsuit against the state or local government if you can show their negligence contributed to your accident and they knew about the issue but failed to fix it.
7. Work with an experienced car accident attorney.
The sad fact is that most insurance companies offer more to parties who have an attorney than to those who do not. Insurance companies rely on you not knowing the value of your case, and they will take advantage of you. An experienced car accident attorney will know how the insurance companies work and how to combat their tactics. They will also be able to accurately value your case and help you understand what you deserve.
Factors that can influence the value of your case
As we mentioned earlier, every case is different. Even if your accident is just like your friend’s accident, your final monetary award may be considerably different. Beyond the basics of your case, the insurance will look deeper to diminish the value of your case.
On the flip side, your attorney will look just as closely to find things that may increase the value of your case.
Common variables that can influence the value of your case include:
- The degree and type of injuries: The simple truth is that brain injuries are “worth more” than soft tissue injuries. Regardless of your actual medical bills, the insurance company will likely try to offer less if “all you have is whiplash.” People respond to pain and injuries differently. Look at the effects of the injury, not simply what type of injury you have.
- Whether you have any preexisting conditions: Insurance companies always look for preexisting injuries. Their goal is to say the accident was not the cause of your pain. A preexisting injury does not preclude you from making a claim, nor does it have to diminish the value of your case.
- The need for ongoing care: If you need ongoing care or will likely be out of work after the conclusion of your case, the insurance company will have to consider this. You will not be eligible for further payment after your case closes, but your monetary award may include funds to cover future costs.
- The other party’s insurance policy limits: In most cases, your final recovery will not exceed the other party’s insurance policy limits. However, there are exceptions. If your costs exceed the amount of the other driver’s policy, you might recover more from a third-party insurer (as outlined above) or your own uninsured/underinsured policy.
You have rights. Stand up for what you deserve.
You deserve justice after a motor vehicle accident. If you suffered injuries, you shouldn’t have to bear the cost. Under the law, you may recover financial compensation. To learn more or get started on your case, contact an experienced car accident attorney.